Excommunication and forgiveness


#1

What is the church’s stance on the below?

Say a person is convinced beyond reasonable doubt in his mind and in good concience that he is not excommunicated (*latae sententiae) *but for some he reason he is in-fact excommunicated.

He has imperfect contrition and goes to confession and he omits nothing apart from the fact he is excommunicated, as he believes in good concience that he is not.

What happens? Is his confession invalid?

What is the churchs stance?


#2

Excommunication is like mortal sin – you can’t do it without knowing it.

For example, here’s an excerpt from an article at EWTN. The article deals specifically with abortion but the excerpt is more general:

NOTE WELL To actually incur the excommunication one must know that it is an excommunicable offense at the time of the abortion. Canon 1323 provides that the following do not incur a sanction, those who are not yet 16, are unaware of a law, do not advert to it or are in error about its scope, were forced or had an unforeseeable accident, acted out of grave fear, or who lacked the use of reason (except culpably, as by drunkenness). Thus a woman forced by an abusive husband to have an abortion would not incur an excommunication, for instance, whereas someone culpably under the influence of drugs or alcohol would (canon 1325).


#3

Ferendae Sententiae Excommunication:

Canon 1378: The pretended celebration of the Eucharist or of sacramental Confession
Canon 1388: Violation of the seal of Confession by an interpreter

Latae Sententiae Excommunication:

Canon 1364: Apostasy, heresy or schism
Canon 1367: Violation of the Sacred Species
Canon 1370: Laying violent hands on the Pope
Canon 1378: Absolution of an accomplice
Canon 1382: Episcopal consecration without authorization from the Holy See
Canon 1388: Violation of the seal of Confession by a confessor
Canon 1398: Procuring abortion

Not sure in your example if you are saying that the person knows what mortal sins carry the penalty of automatic excommunication or not. If he knows then it doesn’t matter if he thinks he is excommunicated or not. He is!

If he doesn’t know that such a penalty accompanies any of the listed mortal sins it would be made known to him when confessing. Remember its the mortal sin which is being confessed. Excommunication is not a sin. Its the penalty.
The priest he was confessing to would know that the sin carried such a penalty and the priest would tell him if he could lift the excommunication or if a higher authority was required.


#4

In this situation the person knows all canon law. He is unsure whether he has commited the offence though, he has in good concience decided he has not commited the offence, when in-fact he has.


#5

If he “knows” the law, how can he be unsure? If he “knows” and does it anyway, it is an offense, by definition. Any claim that this is done in “good conscience” is self-deception. Any purposeful breaking of a just law is not “good”.


#6

Perhaps I was vauge, I will change my question a little. The offender knows canon law. Say the offence is heresy. He does not know if a particular deed qualifies as heresy and fails to check that it is. It is however heresy, is he excommunicated?


#7

This would be a good question to ask Hans Kung! He claims to be a Catholic priest in good standing, despite his beliefs, and the Church has done nothing to dispute this claim, but instead Pope Benedict invited him for dinner.


#8

Given your bolded statement, he really doesn’t know, does he? The CCC defines heresy as:

*Heresy *is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same;(2089)

Given this definition and the lack of knowledge he did not commit heresy.

Also, if my understanding is correct, heresy does not bring about an automate excommunication. So, whether he is excommunicated or not, will depend upon his bishop’s actions, not only his own.

Since excommunication is the last straw, if you will, in encouraging repentance, a lot more “stuff” would have to happen between the action and excommunication.


#9

Latae Sententiae Excommunication:

Canon 1364: Apostasy, heresy or schism
Canon 1367: Violation of the Sacred Species
Canon 1370: Laying violent hands on the Pope
Canon 1378: Absolution of an accomplice
Canon 1382: Episcopal consecration without authorization from the Holy See
Canon 1388: Violation of the seal of Confession by a confessor
Canon 1398: Procuring abortion

Heresy does carry the penalty of automatic excommunication.


#10

Davidv posted quoted the CCC on heresy:

“Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same;(2089)”

In other words if the person does not accept and obey ALL the teachings (doctrines and disciplines) summarised in the CCC then that would be heresy.


#11

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